Scan and pay: All with the app

Migros plans to enable its customers to self-scan with smartphones in almost all its grocery stores by the end of March 2022. Under the name subitoGo, the newly developed application of the Swiss retail market leader complements self-scanning with proprietary handheld devices and stationary self-checkouts. Migros works with the same software for all forms of scanning and checkout as it does at the attended checkouts. It is the new solution, which Migros calls avanta internally and is based on SAP Omnichannel Point-of-Sale by GK. Its roll-out was recently completed.

The project teams at Migros Genossenschaftsbund have every reason to celebrate. Just recently, they were able to complete the mega-project avanta, the introduction of a new POS software in all Migros stores. The checkout processes of all sales outlets of the group of cooperatives are controlled uniformly with the solution from GK. The predecessor solution Visual Store has thus been completely replaced.


Among the processes that were successively converted to the new platform during ongoing operations was Subito, the self-scanning of customers with mobile handheld devices, which is established in more than 500 of Migros’ 700 grocery stores of various sizes. In the process, the now 10-year-old system was brought onto the next level. “During parallel operation, we were able to develop additional functions such as subitoGo”, explained Michael von Arb from Migros Genossenschaftsbund, “and yet significantly increase the user-friendliness of existing functions and lay a good foundation for future further developments”.

Migros has developed its subitoGo as part of its own customer app. (Photo: Migros)

With the new software, the user interface of all subito touchpoints was revised and in many places additionally refreshed with moving images instead of static pictures. In the remit of self-scanning, a system architecture is used that provides the business logic and price calculation centrally for all connected touchpoints — Zebra hand scanners and customers’ smartphones.

The integration of digital offers within the framework of the Migros customer loyalty programme Cumulus was also optimised. Activated digital coupons or value vouchers are automatically and directly redeemed and can also be added or removed by the customer at the payment stations during the payment process.

Last but not least, various smaller functions have been integrated to support the service staff in their demanding task and to relieve them, among other things, of spot checks or device management with the Zebra hand-held scanners.

All types of checkout on one platform

The stationary self-checkouts, which Migros also offers in 599 branches, as well as payment stations now also run consistently with avanta, the new POS solution based on GK. “It was very important to us that all forms of checkout run on the same platform”, explains Michael von Arb speaking with The Retail Optimiser. The fact that the systems introduced for the checkout and payment processes can also be used for new forms of scanning and paying for goods without any problems is a key success factor for Migros, as it is for many retail companies. Because there are currently many different new paths opening up away from the traditional checkout staffed by employees and no one knows exactly where the journey will lead. This calls for flexibility on a stable basis.

Fully integrated in all processes: The self-checkouts, where self-scanning customers can also pay. Here in a Migros store at Zurich main station. (Photo: GK)
Fully integrated in all processes: The self-checkouts, where self-scanning customers can also pay. Here in a Migros store at Zurich main station. (Photo: GK)

Migros, too, has ventured an important next step in the middle of the mega-project of converting all checkouts to the GK solution and developed subitoGo, a solution for self-scanning with customers’ smartphones as part of the Migros app. This goes far beyond mapping the function of self-scanning with Zebra devices with the Migros app. “With subitoGo, our customers can complete their shopping entirely on their smartphone for the first time,” explains Sebastian Kälin, project manager at Migros Online. When they pay by mobile, they no longer have to go to a terminal or checkout and can leave the store directly. Users also automatically receive their receipt in digital form.

Sebastian Kälin and his team have received a lot of positive feedback from customers and employees after piloting in over 100 stores. “Numerous customers ask when their branch will get it,” says Kälin. And the employees are relieved when more shoppers take over the scanning of the goods themselves.

Start of the Migros-wide roll-out

Migros started the Switzerland-wide roll-out of subitoGo at the beginning of November. By the end of March 2022, more than 500 Migros grocery shops will offer their customers the possibility to scan and pay with their own smartphone. It is still too early to measure success in terms of user numbers, as the solution has not yet been advertised, explains Sebastian Kälin.

Migros’ partner for POS software is now one of the important players in the self-scanning sector as well. According to a study by the British analyst group Retail Banking Research (RBR) from this year, GK ranks fourth among installations for scanning with mobile devices in the hands of retail customers. GK now offers a solution for all three forms of self-service used by retailers around the checkout process as part of its Cloud4Retail platform to all retailers: Self-checkouts, self-scanning with handheld devices and with the customer’s smartphone can be offered with the in-store solution provider’s solution.

Orit Bar-Ad, Director Portfolio Management at GK, reports that many retail companies are currently tackling the topic of self-scanning primarily because they want to expand their own app to include interaction with customers while they are shopping: “Customers are looking for additional information about products, want transparency about their shopping basket and as little physical contact with third-party devices as possible.”

Retail companies wanted to offer personalised content and promotions, to make them more relevant to the individual customer — engaging consumers in a more targeted way. To do that they need relevant data on their customers shopping behaviour throughout their shopping journey, including their time at the store’ says Orit Bar-Ad. And, last but not least, the option to enable mobile payment with the app is also very interesting especially for those retail companies that have not started to deploy self-checkouts or payment stations at larger scale so far.

Fully integrated into the existing app

Migros has developed subitoGo as part of its own customer app. While the Swiss market leader relies on the GK solution for the core processes, the interface for the smartphones was developed agilely in-house. “It was very important to us that Subito Go is fully integrated into the existing Migros app”, explains Sebastian Kälin. The advantages are obvious: anyone who is already a registered user of the Migros app and uses it to collect or redeem their points from the Cumulus customer loyalty programme does not have to re-enter their data and can quickly and easily start scanning their goods themselves.

Migros has developed its subitoGo as part of its own customer app. (Photo: Migros)
Migros has developed its subitoGo as part of its own customer app. (Photo: Migros)

Most of the previous users of the Migros app are already registered with the Cumulus customer loyalty programme and therefore did not have to register again to use subitoGo, reports Sebastian Kälin. Even before the introduction of subitoGo, Migros offered its customers mobile payment via its app. This helped a lot in the development of self-scanning via app, reports Kälin.
However, a manageable number of processes, such as redeeming and cancelling coupons, which are not mapped in the existing self-scanning solution with proprietary mobile devices, still had to be developed by his team for subitoGo. If the purchase is completed at a self-checkout or payment terminal — as is the case with subito the scanning with mobile handheld devices — it is easier for customers to redeem coupons there. The opportunity to complete the entire purchase with the app brought new challenges. However, the agile Migros Online team was able to master these quickly. Together with the team from GK, which provided the necessary interfaces to the POS software.

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Björn Weber

Björn Weber has been a journalist, analyst and consultant specialising in the retail and consumer goods industry for over 20 years. Prior to founding Fourspot, which is publishing The Retail Optimiser, Björn Weber headed the international analyst group LZ Retailytics. Previously, he was Research Director Retail Technology and Head of Planet Retail in Germany. Before that, Björn Weber was editor for IT & logistics topics at Lebensmittel Zeitung for eight years. Björn Weber is a member of the jury of the Retail Technology Award (Reta Europe) of the EHI. He is a regular speaker at events of the EHI, the NRF, industry media and the Consumer Goods Forum.

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